Farrow-to-finish margins dropped more than $8 per head last week to $55.39 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. While earnings were similar to last month when margins averaged $54.12 per head, they are significantly higher than last year when farrow-to-finish margins averaged just 67 cents per head.

Lean hogs were also down last week, finishing the week at $104.34 per hundredweight, compared to $109.77 the previous week. Feed costs were increased 19 cents last week to $65.19 but are still nearly $30 less than this time last year.

Pork packer margins also dropped, averaging $18.15 per head last week compared to $22.54 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $116.10 per hundredweight, compared to $123.56 the previous week.

Last week was one of wild swings throughout the market, including profits for feedlots. After topping $227 per head the week of October 11, feedlot margins retreated last week, averaging $175.72 per head the week ending October 18, according to the Sterling Profit Tracker. In the last month, feedlot margins have made a more than $51 per head swing, with margins one month ago standing at $186 per head before topping $227 and finishing last week at $175. Last year at this time, feedlot margins averaged just shy of $89 per head.

Cash prices were mostly steady last week, dipping from $163.96 per hundredweight the previous week to $163.81 last week. However, they still remain more than $34 per hundredweight higher than cash prices at this time last year.

Feeders were down more than $2 per hundredweight as well, finishing the week at $241.02. Last month, feeders were earning $227, and at this time last year, feeders averaged $163 per hundredweight, a nearly $78 difference compared to today’s market. Feed costs were up again, increasing more than $8 last week.

High fed cattle prices continue to put pressure on packer margins, which dipped deeper in the red last week to negative $44.65 per head. Tight and negative packer margins are nothing new this time of year, but on the bright side, packer losses are not as great as they were last year at this time when they averaged $66 per head.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 18:

  • Average feeder margins: $175.72 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$45.65 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 17:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $55.39 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $18.15 per head.

The Sterling Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are produced by Sterling Marketing Inc. and John Nalivka, president, Vale, Ore., and are published weekly by Drovers/CattleNetwork, and PorkNetwork.